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Google Ransom Note
causing some grief

 9:43 pm on Mar 9, 2004 (gmt 0)

Has anyone ever had this problem?
For one of our products, we had sale pricing. A buy one get a second one half price sale. We ranked very high for this product and when searching google, our potential customers would read the "temporary" sale pricing in the ransom note in the SERPS. The problem being, the sale ended. But Google is still showing the sale pricing in the ransom note.
Try to explain to a customer that we have zero control over Google's content. A couple of customers are convinced that we are pulling a fast one. One person demanded the sale price, we honored the pricing just to end the problem.

Any other similar stories?



 9:38 am on Mar 10, 2004 (gmt 0)

many like this, but you have to take this into account, I am putting now special deals in a java script or image to avoid this problem
Hope this helps


 9:56 am on Mar 10, 2004 (gmt 0)

If the google cache has a sale end date, I would not honour the price.

Any page within Google can have a price on it. I have the same product several times within my site for various reasons including promotions. Google can have three or four different prices shown to the customer, depending on what they search for.

So far, very few complaints. I only honour the latest price on the site - I will not honour a Google or other search engine price (which can be weeks, if not months out of date).

You can explain it like advertising. A magazine advert can go out months after it was written, and the price can change during this time. In the UK, E&OE is used to cover this legally (errors and omissions excepted, I think!).

If it is really becoming a serious problem:


 11:51 am on Mar 10, 2004 (gmt 0)

I agree with PCInk, and for anyone who hasn't read that page fully, make sure to read the "Remove cached pages" section:



 1:16 pm on Mar 10, 2004 (gmt 0)

Thanks for the tips!


 1:19 pm on Mar 10, 2004 (gmt 0)

forgive my naivete but, whats a "Ransom Note"?
marketing lingo intrigues me.


 1:45 pm on Mar 10, 2004 (gmt 0)

I think he's using this phrase in the wrong way...I associate the phrase 'ransom note' with those spam-foiler letters you have to type in to the boxes like they use at AV submissions. Because the letters look all wonky and cut out of a newspaper (just like a ransom note). I've not heard it apply to the snippets in the serps.

(Hmm, 'snippets in the serps', sounds like a missing line from 'flagon with the dragon'.)


 1:53 pm on Mar 10, 2004 (gmt 0)

I've definetly heard it used for some sort of limited time offer promotional materials before. But i never knew exactly what one was.


 2:07 pm on Mar 10, 2004 (gmt 0)

This use of "Google ransom note" is one we old timers will remember. Hardly anyone remembers the ORIGINAL meaning of "Google Dance" aka "The Happy Little Geek DanceTM" anymore.... grumble


 2:09 pm on Mar 10, 2004 (gmt 0)

Oh, I get it, ransom note here refers to the fact that google is holding your price and promotional offer hostage.
am I right?


 2:10 pm on Mar 10, 2004 (gmt 0)

Stargeek, it's not a marketing term at all - in this context, "ransom note" is just referring to the disconnected chunks of text with highlighted search words that Google uses for the description in their SERPs.

(Useless factoid: Another common use of "ransom note" is to describe overuse of fonts and sizes by newbie desktop publishers.)


 2:12 pm on Mar 10, 2004 (gmt 0)

Google Ransom Note.

I am referring to the few sentences or words that Google shows in the SERPS captured from your webpage.

I believe I am using the term correctly. Some skilled webmasters are able to manipulate the ransom note to use it as a call to action for the surfer.


 2:43 pm on Mar 10, 2004 (gmt 0)

Sounds like you are talking about the summary which you can shut off with a google no snippet tag. Or rework the proximity of those sale words. Don't put them so close to your target keywords... or better yet make any mention of a sale a graphic. I'd also recommend a NoCache tag.


 3:03 pm on Mar 10, 2004 (gmt 0)

Ya, we worked it out with the customers. It was more a problem of perception and optics. One particular customer thought we were pulling a fast one, but we were able to explain what occured.


 4:19 pm on Mar 10, 2004 (gmt 0)

A "bait & switch" scheme that you can blame on the search engine... not bad... ;) I can see how a customer would be upset, though, if he wasn't able to locate the super deal that he clicked on in the SERPs.

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